Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Travel and the Lowly Sketchbook

My son Chris looking out the window

Last week I went with my husband and son to visit my oldest son in Arizona.  Most of the time when I go with the family there is precious little time to paint.  We are a busy outdoorsy group so we went hiking and the guy's golfed giving me time to paint?  No, I shopped!  There are other things in life!

I used to take my paints and sketchpad on my trips and never take them out.  I was afraid of onlookers and who knows what else?  But since painting with a plein air group, I don't have those issues anymore.  Most onlookers just take a peek and move on.  Some are chatty, but I've found ways to deal with that.  My family is very supportive and are usually willing to wander while I paint a bit.

Traveling with the family means I don't really have 2 or 3 hours to set up and do a larger plein air painting.  I take my paints in case they decide to do something that will take a while.  But generally, my vacations are to be with those I love and to adventure.  So I take lots of photos to someday do studio paintings.  (another blog entirely)

Over the last five years or so, I've carried a smaller sketchbook and pocket paints in my purse.  With these I do small sketches that require little time, space or water.  I can usually find some bottled water to use on site rather than drag it around--water is heavy!  But small sketches don't need much.  These wer done on the tray table while in flight.
fellow travelers
My favorite things to sketch are people.  (or to paint, period)  On the plane this time I had some fun doing very small paintings of those seated around me.  They are usually unaware and I try to keep it that way.  Its the perfect way to practice quickly drawing faces or figures.  These sketches are usually pretty fresh and don't get overworked.  There is nothing to prove in the sketchbook.  It's a place to practice with color, shape, value and composition.  There is no right or wrong about these little paintings, which may be why they are becoming so dear to me. 

I have grown to love my sketchbooks and the paintings that are in them.  Many are so simple and straightforward I could frame them.  I don't since they are also memoirs ( I write notes beside them and about my trips) and reference.   Some go on to be larger paintings.  Many serve as inspiration when I've lost mine.  I flip through a sketchbook, see a sketch and remember a photo I took that would be the perfect painting! 

Next I'll show you the paintings from my larger sketch book and share some hints on how to pack light and paint fast with focus.  Until next time!